Independent confirms sale rumours

2012-07-19 08:55

Dublin - Irish publishing group Independent News & Media said it is looking at a possible sale of its South African unit following informal and unsolicited expressions of interest in the unit.

The Dublin-based group, which also announced the departure of its chief financial officer who was ousted from the board last month, said it had appointed advisors to look at a range of options for its South Africa operations.

The publisher has radically restructured in recent years, selling its flagship UK title the Independent, as well as interests in India and shutting loss-making newspapers in Ireland.

It added that it had not made any decision regarding a divestment of its South Africa unit, which notched up €37.6m in underlying operating profit last year, a 14% drop year-on-year. This compared to €45.6m at its Southern and Northern Irish unit, which was down 15%.

Shareholders voted the chairman, James Osborne, and chief financial officer, Donal Buggy, off the board last month after telecoms billionaire Denis O'Brien lead a revolt in the wake of rival Gavin O'Reilly stepping down as chief executive in April.

O'Reilly's departure ended his family's 30-year control of Ireland's largest media company and years of bitter squabbling between O'Brien and the O'Reilly family.

Buggy, who will leave the group on October 5, will be replaced by Eamonn O'Kennedy, the group's finance director of its Irish and Northern Ireland operations since 2011.